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Quinoa Super Food Diet

by
author image Michael Onwochei
Michael Onwochei started writing professionally in 1979. His work has appeared in numerous scientific publications, including the “American Journal of Physiology," "Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology," “Life Sciences” and “Hypertension." He earned his Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics from Howard University School of Medicine.
Quinoa Super Food Diet
Quinoa is a super-nutrient pseudo-grain. Photo Credit Quinoa image by bbroianigo from Fotolia.com

Quinoa, the "Incas gold," is a pseudo-grain of the goosefoot species. This gluten-free food features a unique nutrient structure rare in other food sources. It has the properties of a high-energy food and the attributes of a healthy diet packed with nutrients

High Energy Food

Quinoa Super Food Diet
Energy from carbohydrates Photo Credit corn grains image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com

Foods with high proportions of carbohydrates or fats are called high-energy foods. With a carbohydrate content of 59.7 percent, quinoa is a high-energy food. Quinoa also has a 4 to 8 percent fat content, most of which is unsaturated -- the "good" fat. In addition to the carbohydrates, which are mainly complex carbohydrates, quinoa contains 5 percent dietary fiber. Consequently, this pseudo-grain has a low-glycemic index, meaning it won't spike your blood sugar.

Protein Content

Quinoa Super Food Diet
Essential amino acids Photo Credit docosahexaenoic acid image by Cornelia Pithart from Fotolia.com

The protein content in quinoa ranges from 10 to 18 percent compared to 2 to 8 percent for most grains. Additionally, quinoa contains all of the eight essential amino acid proteins. Excluding soybeans and mushrooms, all eight amino proteins are mostly absent from plant and non-animal sources of food. Amino acids help build muscles and repair damaged tissues.

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Minerals and Vitamins

Quinoa Super Food Diet
Quinoa is rich in manganese and trace minerals. Photo Credit lentils grains image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com

Quinoa is a mineral-rich food. Primary and trace minerals include sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphate, selenium, chromium, copper and manganese. Unlike most grains that are poor in trace minerals, quinoa has high levels of trace minerals. The six of the nine essential trace minerals found in significant amounts in quinoa include manganese, selenium, iron, copper, chromium and zinc.



Vitamins are also found in significant amounts in quinoa (see reference 3), however, the types of vitamins are limited compared to that of most vegetables. Vitamins found in high concentrations include vitamin E, folate, panthothenic acid and vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6 (see reference 3).

Health Benefits

Quinoa Super Food Diet
Vitamins in quinoa. Photo Credit vitamins image by robert lerich from Fotolia.com

Numerous beneficial effects have been attributed to quinoa. These include prevention of osteoporosis, heart diseases, and oxidative damage to tissues and organs. The antioxidant protection of mitochondria by quinoa is very important. Mitochondria use large amounts of oxygen for aerobic respiration and are prone to oxidative damage. Manganese plays a critical role in the antioxidant effects of quinoa in the mitochondria.

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References

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